P V Sindhu loses to Carolina Marin in final, ends up with silver

World number one Carolina Marin of Spain overcame a first game loss to outplay India's P. V. Sindhu 19-21, 21-12, 21-15 in the final and win the gold medal in the badminton women's singles at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

P. V. Sindhu
P. V. Sindhu
World number one Carolina Marin of Spain overcame a first game loss to outplay India's P. V. Sindhu 19-21, 21-12, 21-15 in the final and win the gold medal in the badminton women's singles at the Olympic Games here today.
It was Marin almost all the way in the match, barring the later stages of the first game, when Sindhu came from behind at 12-16 to first come up on level and then reel off five points in a row to win at 21-16.
But, overall, the 21-year-old was up against a much better player today as the Spaniard played aggressively almost throughout and controlled the proceedings.
This was the first time that an Indian had made it to the badminton singles final and the silver that Sindhu won today is an improvement on the bronze won by her teammate Saina Nehwal at the London Olympics in 2012.
Sindhu, appearing in her first Olympics, managed to stay level with Marin in the opening minutes but was soon behind at 2-5, 5-9 and then 6-12 as the Spaniard attacked well, both from the baseline and the net, and kept her rival moving all over court.
The Indian, however, fought back to narrow the gap at 16-17 but Marin then moved ahead to 19-16 with a powerful shot to Sindhu's backhand. A series of unforced errors by Marin helped Sindhu pull up at 19-19 and the Indian quickly picked up two more points to win at 21-19 before the Spaniard quite realised what had happened. Sindhu had scored five points in a row at that stage, reminding spectators of the manner in which she had reeled off 11 points in a row in the second game of yesterday's semi-final against Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, which she had won 21-19, 21-10.
Marin, an amazingly fast mover on the court, appeared more determined in the second game as she quickly jumped to a 4-0 lead, which she widened to 10-2 and then 11-4 before Sindhu could settle down.
Sindhu fought back briefly, defending wll and come up some good shots at the net, to make it 7-14 but Marin, with superb angled shots, beautiful wrist work and deft placements, ensured that she stayed ahead, moving to 18-10 and then sealing the game at 21-12.
Marin began the decider on an aggressive note, grabbing a 7-4 lead. Again, Sindhu clawed her way back into the game by equalising at 10-10. The two players crossed over with Marin having a slender 11-10 advantage.
Sindhu kept up the fight but could not quite catch up and was behind at 14-16 from where Marin managed six points in a row to end up with six match points and prevailed finally at 21-15 to win the gold -- the first European woman to achieve the distinction in badminton at the Olympics. Sindhu is the first Indian woman to win a silver at the Olympics.
Sindhu has, in the process, become the fourth Indian to win an Olympic siver. The first was shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in 2004, followed by shooter Vijay Kumkar and wrestler Sushil Kumar, both in 2008.
The silver helped India to move up to the 57th place in the medals tally table.
“I played well. I wanted to win, but I could not," Sindhu said after the match. “I am proud of what I have achieved.  Silver is no  mean achievement in  the Olympics."
“It was a tough encounter  and I gave my best," Sindhu said. “Marin is a very good player she played well. I tried to stop her in the third, but could not but I am not complaining.
“Every player wants to win and, in my heart of hearts, I was also thinking that only one match is left for the gld but that  turned out to be elusive.
“Never mind, it was a good match. I never thought I will ever play in the Olympic final. I am happy with the silver I got," she added.

ICC World T20: New Zealand stun India by 47 runs

New Zealand pulled off a stunning 47-run win over hosts India in the first group stage match of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium at Nagpur on Tuesday night.

New Zealand stun India, win by 47 runs
New Zealand pulled off a stunning 47-run win over hosts India in the first group stage match of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium here tonight.
The hosts appeared to have done well when they restricted New Zealand to 126 for seven in their 20 overs after the Kiwis' skipper Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to bat first.
But they then managed to bowl out the Indians for just 79 in 18.1 overs to maintain their all-win record against India in T20 internationals, winning all the five matches they have met in so far. The shabby batting performance by the Indians was clearly no match for the might of the New Zealand bowling today.
Chasing what appeared to be an easy target, both the Indian openers departed under 10 runs. Shikhar Dhawan (1) was the first to go, trapped leg before wicket by Nathan McCullum.
Rohit Sharma followed him in the third over after making just five runs. He tried to take on Mitchell Santer, only to be removed by a stumping by Luke Ronchi. Suresh Raina (1) followed him into the pavilion in the same over. The south paw tried to flick the ball past mid-wicket only to play it too high and was caught by a waiting Martin Guptill at short mid-wicket.
Circumstances turned worse when Yuvraj Singh (4) followed within the power play, giving a return catch to Mccullum. Kohli who tried to build the innings with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni departed at the start of the ninth over.
By this time India were 39/5 and had bleak hopes of regaining control of the match.
Soon the rest of the tail tumbled for a feeble 79/10 in 18.1 overs. Except Dhoni (30), Kohli (23) and Ravichandran Ashwin (10), none of the other batsmen could cross into double digits.
The New Zealnd bowlers had a great day in the field with the ball. Slow-left-arm bowler Santer topped the bowling chart with figures of four for 11 with an economy of 2.75. This was backed up by Ish Sodhi who clamed three wickets for 18 in his four overs. Santer was chosen Player of the Match.
Earlier, things did not appear to be going to well for the Kiwis as they made first use of the pitch.
Opener Guptill smashed the first ball of the match from Ashwin for a straight six. But the off-spinner got even two balls later, trapping the batsman leg before wicket.
Colin Munro, who replaced him, departed after making just seven an over later, top-edging Ashish Nehra's ball to wide mid-on.
From then on, the Indian bowling attack struck home in terms of both picking up wickets at regular intervals and also restricting the Kiwis' run tally. 
Both Raina and Ravindra Jadeja completed their four overs with figures of one for 15 as the Indians came up with a good all-round perfomrnance in the field.
Dhoni took a catch off Jadeja and did a stumping as well and two brilliant runouts by Raina and Dhawan added to New Zealand's woes.
Corey Anderson stood out in the batting order, scoring 34 runs, and Luke Ronchi  scored 21 off 11 balls to take the side's total to 126 for seven at the end of 20 overs.
New Zealand innings (20 overs maximum)
MJ Guptill lbw b Ashwin 6
KS Williamson st Dhoni b Raina 8
C Munro c Pandya b Nehra 7
CJ Anderson b Bumrah 34
LRPL Taylor run out (Raina) 10
MJ Santner c †Dhoni b Jadeja 18
GD Elliott run out (Dhawan/Nehra) 9
L Ronchi not out 21
NL McCullum not out 0
Extras (b 4, lb 3, w 6) 13
Total (7 wickets; 20 overs) 126 (6.30 runs per over)
Did not bat: AF Milne, IS Sodhi
Fall of wickets: 1-6 (Guptill, 0.2 ov), 2-13 (Munro, 1.3 ov), 3-35 (Williamson, 6.5 ov), 4-61 (Taylor, 11.3 ov), 5-89 (Anderson, 15.4 ov), 6-98 (Santner, 16.4 ov), 7-114 (Elliott, 19.3 ov)
R Ashwin 4 0 32 1
A Nehra 3 1 20 1
JJ Bumrah 4 0 15 1
SK Raina 4 0 16 1
RA Jadeja 4 0 26 1
HH Pandya 1 0 10 0
India innings (target: 127 runs from 20 overs)
RG Sharma st Ronchi b Santner 5
S Dhawan lbw b McCullum 1
V Kohli c Ronchi b Sodhi 23
SK Raina c Guptill b Santner 1
Yuvraj Singh c & b McCullum 4
MS Dhoni c McCullum b Santner 30
HH Pandya lbw b Santner 1
RA Jadeja c & b Sodhi 0
R Ashwin st Ronchi b Sodhi 10
A Nehra b Milne 0
JJ Bumrah not out 0
Extras (w 3, nb 1) 4
Total (all out; 18.1 overs) 79 (4.34 runs per over)
Fall of wickets: 1-5 (Dhawan, 0.5 ov), 2-10 (Sharma, 2.2 ov), 3-12 (Raina, 2.5 ov), 4-26 (Yuvraj Singh, 4.5 ov), 5-39 (Kohli, 8.1 ov), 6-42 (Pandya, 9.4 ov), 7-43 (Jadeja, 10.2 ov), 8-73 (Ashwin, 16.3 ov), 9-79 (Dhoni, 17.4 ov), 10-79 (Nehra, 18.1 ov)
NL McCullum 3 0 15 2
CJ Anderson 3 0 18 0
MJ Santner 4 0 11 4
GD Elliott 2 0 9 0
AF Milne 2.1 0 8 1
IS Sodhi 4 0 18 3
Toss - New Zealand, who chose to bat
Points - New Zealand 2, India 0
Player of the match - MJ Santner (New Zealand)

SC appoints Gavaskar to oversee IPL as interim BCCI chief, Yadav to handle other functions

The Supreme Court on Friday appointed former Indian cricket skipper Sunil Gavaskar as interim president of the BCCI to oversee the IPL in place of incumbent N Srinivasan, who has stepped aside till the completion of the inquiry into allegations of betting and spot-fixing in the Twenty20 tournament.

BCCI counsel welcomes SC verdict
The Supreme Court today appointed former Indian cricket skipper Sunil Gavaskar as interim president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to oversee the Indian Premier League (IPL) in place of incumbent N Srinivasan, who has stepped aside till the completion of the inquiry into allegations of betting and spot-fixing in the Twenty20 tournament.
The apex court also said that all other functions of the BCCI president would be handled by another former cricketer, Shivlal Yadav, who is the seniormost vice-president of the BCCI. He represents the South Zone, the zone represented by Mr Srinivasan.
The court also allowed the two teams, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR), to participate in the seventh season of IPL beginning April 16. Both teams are being investigated for alleged involvement in the betting and spot-fixing scandal.
A two-judge bench comprising Mr Justice A K Patnaik and Mr Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla posted the matters before them, arising out of two petitions, for further hearing to April 16 and noted that it would take some more days after that for the hearing to be completed and for judgement to be delivered.
They noted that Mr Srinivasan had made a written offer through his counsel that, till investigation into which the allegations against him is completed, he will not discharge any of the functions of the post.
Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the Cricket Association of Bihar in one of the petitions, had submitted that no further investigation into the allegations against Mr. Srinivasan is necessary as the findings of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee, appointed by the court, and the materials relied on by the said committee for the findings were sufficient for the court to remove Mr. Srinivasan from the post of BCCI president as prayed in the petition before the Bombay High Court.
"As we are yet to hear all the parties in these matters, we cannot at this stage form any opinion and pass orders on the basis of such opinion for removal of Mr. Srinivasan from the post of the President of the BCCI. 
"The IPL 2014 is, however, scheduled to commence on 16th April, 2014 and we have to pass interim orders to ensure that all those who love cricket continue to watch cricket in IPL 2014 and the matches are played by the players in accordance with the IPL Rules," the judges said.
"Considering the fact that Mr. Sunil Gavaskar was a cricket player of great repute and eminence, a captain of the Indian cricket team for a long period and has a wide experience in cricket related activities and of men and matters, we appoint him, as an interim measure, to function as and exercise
the powers of the President of the BCCI in relation to the IPL, 2014 till we hear and deliver the judgment in these matters. We make it clear that
with regard to all other matters of BCCI, the senior most Vice-President of the BCCI, Mr. Shiv Lal Yadav, will discharge the functions of the President of the
"We also direct that till we deliver the judgment, none of the employees of India Cement Limited or its associate companies (except cricket players or commentators) will perform any of the duties assigned to them by the BCCI and the Interim President, Mr. Sunil Gavaskar, will have power to engage the services of such persons on whom he has confidence for work in connection with the IPL 2014," the order said.
The court said that it was upto Mr Gavaskar to decide as to whether Mr Sundar Raman, also an employee of India Cement, Should continue as Chief Operating Officer of IPL or not.
"In case of any difficulty, Mr. Gavaskar may apply to this Court for appropriate orders," the judges said.
They also said that Mr Gavaskar would not work as a commentator during this period as an interim president of the BCCI in relation to IPL matters, and that he would be adequately compensated for the loss of income by the BCCI.
The compensation amount would be determined after the court resumes hearing in the matter on April 16.
"We make it clear that we have not passed any order preventing any player or any team from participating in the IPL Tournament 2014," the court added.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday said that Mr Srinivasan should step aside till the IPL probe is over and given it time until yesterday to come up with a proposal in this regard.
The BCCI yesterday told the court that Mr Srinivasan was willing to do so and that it was keen that the probe be completed expeditiously so that the whole episode could be put behind and it could move forward.
The Supreme Court proposed yesterday that Mr Srinivasan should step down and an eminent cricketer such as Mr Gavaskar be appointed in his place till it gave its final verdict in the IPL case.
It had also proposed that CSK and RR should not be part of IPL 7 and that no peson associated with India Cements, the company headed by Mr Srinivasan, should be allowed to function in any capacity in the BCCI.
The court had given the BCCI time until today to consider the proposals before it gave its interim order in the matter.
In the orders issued today, CSK and RR were allowed to participate in the tournament. 
The decision to ask Mr Yadav to handle the duties of the president of BCCI, other than those related to IPL, is in keeping with its rules which require that its head should be a member of the body.
Mr Srinivasan is the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of India Cements, which owns CSK, one of the eight teams in the tournament.
His son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who was a member of the CSK team management, was arrested by the Mumbai Police in May 2013 as part of their probe into alleged spot-fixing and betting in the sixth season of IPL.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is also the captain of CSK, is a senior employee of India Cements, as are some others associated with IPL and BCCI.
Mr Srinivasan had last year stepped aside as the BCCI chief to facilitate the investigations into the allegations, but was, on September 29, 2013 re-elected to the position.
The Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee's report, which was handed over to the Supreme Court on February 10 this year, is understood to have said that the allegations against Mr Meiyappan needed to be probed further.
The court had appointed the committee on October 8 last year to investigate the alleged scam.
Some players of Rajasthan Royals, including Indian bowler S Sreesanth, had been arrested for their alleged role in the spot-fixing scam.

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India bags 4 more golds, slides to 3rd place in medals table


India bagged up four more gold medals - 3 in boxing and 1 in table tennis - as it raised its tally to 36 golds but dropped to third place in the medals table in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi on Wednesday.

India's Sharat Kamal Achanta and Subhajit Saha after winning the gold medal in the men's doubles in table tennis at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi on October 13, 2010.
India's Sharat Kamal Achanta and Subhajit Saha after winning the gold medal in the men's doubles in table tennis at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi on October 13, 2010.

Indian boxers Paramjeet Samota, Manoj Kumar and Suranjoy Mayengbam and men's table tennis pair of Sharat Kamal Achanta and Subhajit Saha picked up gold medals as the hosts raised their tally to 36 gold medals on the penultimate day of the XIX Commonwealth Games here today.

The hosts, however, found themselves pushed to third place in the medals table, with 36 golds, 26 silvers and 34 bronzes.

England pushed past them to the second slot with 37 golds, 56 silvers and 45 bronzes while Australia was unassailable at the top with 72 golds, 50 silvers and 47 bronzes.

The day also brought some shame for the home contingent with athlete Rani Yadav, who had competed in the women's 20 km walk, testing positive for a banned substance during an anti-doping test. She has been suspended from the Games, pending the result of a B sample test in the next 48 hours.

Samota capped India's best-ever showing in boxing at the Commonwealth Games as he outpointed Tariq Abdul Haqq of Trinidad and Tobago 5-1 in the men's heavy weight (91 kg) event in the final bout of competition this evening.

The Indian, who had bagged the bronze at the Asian Championships in Zhuhai, China last year, dominated the bout from the word go. He was leading 3-0 in the first round and increased it to 5-0 by the ed of the second, finishing with a 5-1 decision.

Before him, Manoj Kumar upset the more experienced Bradley Saunders of England in the light welterweight (64 kg) category 11-2. Saunders is a European Championships gold medallist.

Kumar, 24, worked up a 4-1 lead after the first round and widened it further to 8-1 going into the last round.

Earlier, Suranjoy won his flyweight (52kg) bout by walkover when Benson Njangiru of Kenya pulled out with a wrist injury.

India ended the competition with three gold and four bronze medals. Northern Ireland won three gold and England two, while Scotland and Sri Lanka took one each. This was India's best showing in boxing in the Commonwealth Games. They had won one gold each in 2002 and 2006.

Top-seeded Achanta and Saha sent the crowd at the packed Yamuna Sports Complex into raptures as they beat second-seeded Gao Ning and Yang Zi of Singapore 9-11, 12-10, 11-4, 5-11, 11-8 in the final of the men's doubles event in table tennis.

The Singapore dictated the pace in the early stages and wrapped up the first set 11-9. But the crowd egged the local pair on and Achanta and Saha played brilliantly to take the next two sets 12-10 and 11-4. Gao and Yang took the match into a fifth set by winning the fourth 11-5 before Achanta and Saha settled the issue by winning the next set 11-8.

This is the first time that India has won the gold medal in the men's doubles in table tennis at the Commonwealth Games.

"In 2006 we went out of competition as underdogs. No one recognised us in the men's doubles competition in 2006. I was full of pride, so happy that I was finally able to do it. The government and our country has helped us a lot and the best way we can repay them is with a win today. Our aim was that our flag should fly high and we accomplished it," he said.

About his loss in the men's singles semi-finals to Yang earlier in the day, he said, "I lost the match today with close points. The competition was really tough. I wasn't able to forget my defeat today. It was really a hard phase today. I had just three hours to get rid of the thought that I was defeated today."


India grab 6 more golds to take Games tally to 20, stay in 2nd place


India won 6 more golds - 3 in shooting, 2 in wrestling and 1 in archery - to take its tally to 20 and retain the second slot in the medals table at the XIX Commonwealth Games in Delhi on Friday,

India's Dola Banerjee, Deepika Kumari and Bombayala Devi after winning the gold medal in archery in the women;s team recurve event at the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi on October 8, 2010.
India's Dola Banerjee, Deepika Kumari and Bombayala Devi after winning the gold medal in archery in the women;s team recurve event at the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi on October 8, 2010.

India won six more golds - three in shooting, two in wrestling and one in archery - to take its tally to 20 and retain the second slot in the medals table on the fifth day of competitions in the XIX Commonwealth Games here today.

The hosts have so far managed 20 golds, 16 silvers and 12 bronzes. Australia are at the top of the table with 47 golds, 24 silvers and 27 bronzes, while England remained in the third place with 19 golds, 37 silvers and 20 bronzes.

The day started on a happy note for India with the trio of Deepika Kumari, Dola Banerjee and Bombayala Devi Laishram coming from behind to stun England 207-206 and taking the top slot in the Women's Team Recurve event in archery.

A little later, ace shooters Gagan Narang and Imran Hasan Khan won the gold in the Pairs 50m Rifle 3 Positions Men event.

Their compatriot Vijay Kumar, 25, set a new Games Final Record to win gold, notching up 787.5 points in the Singles 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Men event. He had earlier broken his own Games Qualification Record with a score of 583 points.

Alka Tomar defeated Tonya Verbeek of Canada in the 59 kg Women's Freestyle wrestling event at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex.

She was followed by Anita, who beat Megan Buydens of Canada in the final of the 67 kg Women's Freestyle to take the gold.

"I've been through two months of hard training. After this win I'm more confident for future events like that," she said later.

India got their sixth gold medal of the day when shooter Omkar Singh won the Singles 10m Air Pistol Men with a score of 681.8. Bin Gai of Singapore took the silver with 676.2 while Daniel Repacholi of Australia got the bronze with 674.

Omkar Singh had picked up the gold in the company of Gurpreet Singh in the Men's 10m Air Pistol Pairs, notching up 1163 points for a new Games record. On Wednesday, he had won the Men's 50m Pistol Singles and taken the silver in the Men's 50m Pistol Pairs with Deepak Sharma on Tuesday.

Ashish Kumar, who won a bronze in the Men's Floor Exercise yesterday to earn for India its first ever medal in Gymnastics in the Commonwealth Games, won the silver in the men's vault today.

"I am disappointed at not getting the gold medal, but at least I have the experience of competing at this level. My first vault was the highest, but on the second I lost it," he said later.

Gymnast Ashish Kumar
Gymnast Ashish Kumar

The gold went to England's Luke Fowell, who had a score of 15.762 points. Kumar scored 16.150 points on his first attempt but then got a disappointing 14.475 on his second vault for an overall tally of 15.312. Ian Galvan of Canada got the bronze with a score of 15.037.

India had never won a medal in gymnastics before yesterday at the Olympics, World Championships or the Commonwealth Games.

Gurpreet Singh, who had won two golds yesterday in the Men's 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Pairs and 10m Air Pistol Pairs, won the bronze in the event. Malaysia's Hasli Izwan Amir Hassan took the silver with a score of 760.3.

Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Mansher Singh grabbed silver in the Men's Trap Pairs event in shooting with a score of 197. The gold went to Australian pair Michael Diamond and Adam Vella, who notched up 198 for a new Games record.

In tennis, India were assured of a gold or silver in both the men's and women's singles with top seed Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza winning their semi-final matches today.

Devvarman beat Australia's Matt Ebden 6-3, 6-1 and will meet Greg Jones, also of Austrlia, in the final on Sunday.

Mirza dropped a set but then staged a strong comeback in front of a partisan home crowd on Central Court to prevail 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 over Olivia Rogowska of Australia. She will meet the winner of the other semi-final between two Australians, Anastasia Rodionova and Sally Peers.

"That was a fantastic win. My heart is beating really fast. It hasn't sunk in," Mirza said after the match.

"I'm happy with the way I fought because in the match I didn't play that well. I knew I just needed to fight and come up with something different. I just had to hang in there," she said.

There was disappointment for the home crowds in the men's doubles with Rohan Bopanna and Devvarman going down 6-3, 3-6, 4-6 to Ross Hutchins and Ken Skupski of England and Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes losing 2-6, 2-6 to Paul Hanley and Peter Luczak of Australia in the semi-finals.

India's Rahul Banerjee and Tarundeep Rai won the bronze in the Men's Team Recurve in archery today, beating England for the third position.

In wrestling, Babita Kumari of India had to settle for silver in the women's freestyle 51 kg event after losing the final to Ifeoma Christi Nwoye of Nigeria in the final.

The Indian women's hockey team drubbed Trinidad and Tobago 7-0 after losing 1-2 to Australia yesterday.

In boxing, Jai Bhagwan thrashed Nasser Mafuru of Tanzania 11-2 in the lightweight (60 kg) and Dilbag Singh beat Aaron Prince of Trinidad and Tobago 11-3 in the welterweight (69 kg).

India lost to New Zealand in the women's pairs of the lawn bowls competition and found themselves pushed to fifth place and unlikely to make the play-offs.

In squash, Anwesha Reddy of India beat Zephanie Curgenven of Guernsey 11-5, 11-5 5-11, 6-11, 11-6 in the women's singles Consolation Plate Final at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.

Shooters Gagan Narang and Imran Hasan Khan of India after winning the gold medal in the Pairs 50m Rifle 3 Positions Men event at the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi on October 8, 2010.
Shooters Gagan Narang and Imran Hasan Khan of India after winning the gold medal in the Pairs 50m Rifle 3 Positions Men event at the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi on October 8, 2010.

For shooter Narang, it was his third gold medal of the meet so far and the second in the pairs. He had earlier won the men's 10m Air Rifle Pairs event along with Abhinav Bindra and then in the 10m Air Rifle Men's Singles event.

In the process, Narang became the fifth person to win seven gold medals in shooting in the Commonwealth Games. He is the first male athlete to win three gold medals at the current edition of the Games in Delhi.

Narang and Khan finished with a tally of 2325, a Games record, to beat James Huckle and Kenny Parr of England, who had a total of 2308 in the finals at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting range.

At the Yamuna Sports Complex, the England women archers had maintained a slender lead for most of the tie today but found themselves in a position where they needed to score 15 points with just two arrows left to overtake the Indians.

Amy Oliver managed only six with her last shot and Alison Williamson needed a 10 off her final arrow but hit an eight to hand the Indian team the gold.

India's compound archers had won a silver in the men's and a bronze in the women's team events yesterday.




India grabs 5 golds to climb to 2nd spot in medals tally at Commonwealth Games


India grabbed five gold medals to climb to the second spot in the medals tally behind Australia at the end of the second day of competitions in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi on Tuesday.

Shooters Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang after winning the first gold for India at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi on October 5, 2010.
Shooters Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang after winning the first gold for India at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi on October 5, 2010.

India grabbed five gold medals -- with two pairs of shooters hitting the bull's eye and wrestlers snatching all three titles at stake -- to climb to the second spot in the medals tally behind Australia at the end of the second day of competitions in the XIX Commonwealth Games here today.

The hosts started the day on a bright note as Beijing Olympics gold medalist Abhinav Bindra and world record holder Gagan Narang won the first gold of the Games for them in the men's 10 m Air Rifle Pairs at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.

They shot a total of 1,193 out of a maximum 1,200 points to snatch victory. Bindra scored 595 while Narang scored 598.

Shortly afterwards, Rahi Sarnobat and Anisa Sayeed set a Games record of 1,156 points to win gold in the women's 25 m Pistol Pairs.

The action then shifted to the wrestling arena at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, where in the men's Greco-Roman style, Ravinder Singh, Sanjay and Anil Kumar snatched gold in their respective categories.

Ravinder beat England's Christopher Terence Bosson 7-2 in the 60 kg category after which Sanjay prevailed over Brian Richard Addinall 2-0 in the 74 kg category. Anil Kumar brought more cheers for the home team by outperforming Hassene Fkiri of Australia 6-0 in the final of the 96 kg category.

India's medals haul today also included two silvers won by Deepak Sharma and Omkar Singh in the men's 50 m pistol pairs event and Tejaswini Sawant and Lajjakumari Gauswami in the 50 m rifle 3 position.

India's tally now stands at 5 golds, 4 silvers and 2 bronzes. India's women lifters Sonia Chanu and Sandhya Rani Devi gave India their first two medals - a silver and a bronze in the 48 kg class yesterday, followed by a silver and bronze by their male counterparts Sukhen Dey and V Srinivasa Rao in the 56 kg class.

In shooting, Sarnotbat achieved an average of 9.733 points while Sayeed averaged 9.533 in the session. For India, it was the second successive gold in this event, having won in the Melbourne Games in 2006, too.

Australia's Linda Ryan and Lalita Yauhleuskaya bagged silver with 1,146 points while Gorgs Geikie and Julia Lydall of England took the bronze with 1,122 points.

Onkar Singh and Deepak Sharma won a silver for India in the 50 m Air Pistol Pair event.

In the men's 10 m Air Rifle Pairs event, James Huckle and Kenny Parr of England took the silver with 1,174 points while Hel Abdullah Baki and Asif Hossain Khan of Bangladesh got the bronze with 1,173 points.

With today's victory, Bindra completed a treble in the event, having won golds earlier at the Manchester Commonealth Games in 2002 and at Melbourne in 2006. It was his fourth gold medal in shooting in the Games.

For Narang, it was his fifth gold medal in the Commonwealth Games, having won gold in the last three editions.

Bindra and Narang today broke their own Games record of 1,189 set in Melbourne four years ago.

India's badminton star Saina Nehwal in action against Mariama Ayanna Eastmond of Barbados in the team event at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi on October 5, 2010.
India's badminton star Saina Nehwal in action against Mariama Ayanna Eastmond of Barbados in the team event at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi on October 5, 2010.

Narang notched a sequence of 99, 100, 100, 99, 100, 100 while Bindra ended up with a series of 100, 98, 99, 100, 99, 99

In tennis, top seed Somdev Devvarman of India won 6-4, 6-2 in his opening match against Devin Mullings of the Bahamas but he looked ill at ease. "I was a little nervous. I did well to come back," he told reporters latr.

"Playing in India is a special feeling. It doesn't matter what seed you are. When you're playing something as big as this, it's a lot more special. You win for your country, then yourself," he added.

In the men's doubles, top seeded Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi of India cruised into the last eight with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Thangarajah Dineshkanthan and Amresh Jayawickreme in the first round.

In the women's doubles, Nirupama Sanjeev and Poojashree reached the quarter-finals with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Aminath Irufa Mahir and Aminath Maleela Solih of the Maldives.

In archery, top seed Rahul Banerjee and Jayanta Talukdar of India reached the last eight in the men's recurve as did Deepika Kumari and Dola Banerjee in the women's event.


Cricket: Ravi Shastri appointed Head Coach, Zaheer Khan is bowling consultant

Ravi Shastri
Ravi Shastri
The Board of Control for Cricket in  India (BCCI) late tonight named former Indian all-rounder Ravi Shastri as the head coach of the Indian cricket team, while Zaheer Khan has been appointed as Team India's Bowling Consultant and Rahul Dravid as the Batting Consultant for overseas Test tours.
Dravid will continue as the India A and U-19 coach, a press release from BCCI said.
"As part of the process for selecting the Head Coach, the Board's Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman conducted the interviews and recommended these appointments in the best interest of the Indian Cricket," the release said.
The term of the appointments will be till the World Cup 2019, it said.
Shastri has been the Team Director in the past, and brings with him a wealth of experience, both as player and as coach.
Khan is a contemporary cricketer who assumed the mentoring role to a young fast bowling unit even during his playing days with India. His inputs will be of immense value to our young fast bowlers, who have shown tremendous potential in the last couple of years, the release said.
"As the Indian team is to play Test cricket overseas in the next two years, Rahul Dravid’s expertise as batting consultant will be immensely helpful for youngsters.
"The Board appreciates the contribution of the Cricket Advisory Committee – Mr. Sachin Tendulkar, Mr. Sourav Ganguly and Mr. VVS Laxman for recommending these appointments which will take Indian Cricket to greater heights.
"The Board would like to wish these gentlemen the very best and they along with the players together will take Indian Cricket to new heights," the release added.
The CAC had met at the BCCI headquarters here yesterday to interview the final list of applicants for the coveted job.
Ganguly and Laxman attended the meeting in person while Tendulkar joined the panel via video conference.
Apart from Shastri, the CAC interviewed four other applicants -- Virender Sehwag, Tom Moody, Lalchand Rajput and Richard Pybus.
The CAC did not make announcement on that day, saying that they had decided to put forward their recommendation to the BCCI only after meeting captain Kohli.
Shastri, 55, succeeds former India captain Anil Kumble, who had been appointed head coach of the team in June last year for a one-year term.
Kumble had taken over from Shastri, during whose term as Team Director the Indian team had marched to the semi-finals in the ICC World Cup held in Australia and the ICC World T20 India 2016. With him as Team Director, India won the Test series in Sri Lanka after a gap of 22 years and also outplayed South Africa 3-0 in a four-Test home series before clinching the Asia Cup.
Kumble had resigned from the post of Head Coach on June 20 amid media reports of a rift between him and captain Virat Kohli.
The BCCI had on that day said that while the Cricket Advisory Committee had endorsed an extension to his tenure as Head Coach, Kumble had decided not to continue as the coach.
Kumble's decision came just two days after India's humiliating loss to Pakistan in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy tournament.
His one-year contact expired at the end of that tournament but the BCCI had given him the option to travel with the Indian team to the West Indies for the limited overs series. But Kumble chose not to accompany the team and decided to stay back in London for the ICC Annual Conference, citing his commitments as the chairman of its Cricket Committee.
According to various accounts, the BCCI's Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and V V S Laxman, had conveyed to the Board that they had not been able to resolve the differences between Kumble and Kohli.
On May 25, before the start of the Champions Trophy tournament, the BCCI had invited applications from interested candidates for the position of Head Coach. Kumble was a direct entry for the process.
Born on May 27, 1962, Shastri, a right-hand bat and slow left-arm orthodox spinner, played for India, Mumbai and Glamorgan during his playing days. After retirement from active cricket, he has gone on to build a successful career as a commentator.
In all, he played 80 Tests for India, making 3830 runs at an average of 35.79 and taking 151 wickets at 40.96. He played 150 matches and made 3108 runs at an average of 29.04 and took 129 wickets at an average of 36.04. 
He captained India in one Test, against West Indies in Chennai in 1987-88, a match that India won. He also served as vice-captain of the team for many years. 
Though often criticised for his slow batting and his defensive bowling, he proved to be of great value to the side overall. He won the coveted Champion of Champions title, and the Audi car that came with it, in the World Championship in Australia in 1985. 

Cricket: India ‘A’ teams for South Africa tour announced

Manish Pandey will captain the India "A" one-day side and Karun Nair the team in four-day games in the India "A" tour of South Africa beginning later this month, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced here today.
A BCCI press release said its All-India Senior Selection Committee met earlier today to select the India ‘A’ teams for the tour.
India ‘A’ will play a one-day tri-series involving Australia ‘A’ and South Africa ‘A’ followed by two four-day matches against the hosts.
The teams are as follows:
One-day Team:
Mandeep Singh, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, Manish Pandey (Captain), Deepak Hooda, Karun Nair, Krunal Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), Vijay Shankar, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jayant Yadav, Basil Thampi, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Siddarth Kaul.
Test Team:
PK Panchal, Abhinav Mukund, Shreyas Iyer, Ankit Bawne, Karun Nair (Captain), Sudip Chatterjee, Ishan Kishan (wk), Hanuma Vihari, Jayant Yadav, Shahbaz Nadeem, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Aniket Choudhary, Ankit Rajpoot.

Kumble resigns as Head Coach of Indian cricket team amid reports of rift with Kohli

Anil Kumble
Anil Kumble
Former India captain Anil Kumble has resigned from the post of Head Coach of the Indian cricket team amid media reports of a rift between him and captain Virat Kohli.
"?The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCC) confirms that Mr Anil Kumble has withdrawn his services as the post of the Head Coach for the Senior India Men’s team," a brief statement from the BCCI said this evening.
"While the Cricket Advisory Committee had endorsed an extension to his tenure as Head Coach, Mr Anil Kumble has decided not to continue as the coach," the statement added.
Kumble's decision came just two days after India's humiliating loss to Pakistan in the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy tournament on sunday.
His one-year contact expired at the end of that tournament but the BCCI had given him the option to travel with the Indian team to the West Indies for the limited overs series beginning on Friday. But Kumble chose not to accompany the team and decided to stay back in London for the ICC Annual Conference, citing his commitments as the chairman of its Cricket Committee.
According to various accounts, the BCCI's Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and V V S Laxman, had conveyed to the Board that they had not been able to resolve the differences between Kumble and Kohli.
On May 25, before the start of the Champions Trophy tournament, the BCCI had invited applications from interested candidates for the position of Head Coach. Kumble was a direct entry for the process.

Modi says sports can contribute to economy, create jobs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that sports, as a full-fledged ecosystem, could contribute immensely to the country's economy and create lots of employment opportunities and called for continuous efforts to create a mass base for sports.

Modi inaugurates synthetic track at Usha School of Athletics
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that sports, as a full-fledged ecosystem, could contribute immensely to the country's economy and create lots of employment opportunities and called for continuous efforts to create a mass base for sports.
Inaugurating through video-conferencing the synthetic track of the Usha School of Athletics, set up by renowned athlete P. T. Usha in Kerala, he said the sports industry sector provided opportunities in different segments such as professional leagues, sport equipment and surfaces, sports science, medicine, support personnel, apparels, nutrition, skill development and sports management among others.
"Sports is a multi-billion dollar global industry propelled by enormous consumer demand. The global sports industry is estimated at around US dollars 600 billion. In India, the entire sports sector is estimated at US dollars 2 billion only," he said.
"However, India has huge potential in sports. India is a sports loving country. The passion with which my young friends watch the ongoing Cricket Champions Trophy is the same with which they will see the EPL football or the NBA basketball fixtures and the F1 Races.
"And, as I said earlier, they are also getting drawn on to sports like Kabaddi. Our playgrounds and stadiums should be utilized to the maximum.  Holidays should also be about going out and playing a sport. Grounds of schools and colleges or the stadiums with modern facilities in the district may be utilized," he said.
Mr. Modi said the synthetic track was an important landmark in the development of Usha School and would provide modern facilities to the trainees.  
"I take this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of our own Payyoli Express, ‘Udan Pari’ and 'Golden Girl' of India P.T. Usha ji for the development of this school. P.T. Usha has been a shining light of sports in India. She endured several challenges in life and went on to enter Olympics final, missing a medal only by a whisker. In the history of Indian athletics very few have achieved a track record like hers.
"Usha ji, the nation is proud of you. What is even better is that Usha ji has continued her association with sports. Her personal attention and focused approach have started bringing about good results and now her trainees like Miss Tintu Luka and Miss Jisna Mathew have already made their mark at the international level," he said.
"Like Usha ji, Usha School is making the best use of every opportunity by utilizing simple and limited resources," he said.
He also congratulated the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, the Sports Authority of India and the CPWD for having completed this project, which suffered various hurdles resulting in delays.
Underlining that sports is closely linked with the human resource development of a society, Mr. Modi said that, in addition to keeping the body healthy, sports also transforms the personality, bringing about holistic development. It instills discipline and ethos of hard-work.
"It provides learnings for life, which enrich our thought process. The sports field is a great teacher. One of the best things one learns on the sports field is equanimity -- to face victory and defeat -- as a part of life. We learn to be humble in victory and at the same time, not to be bogged down by defeat. A defeat is not the end, in fact it is only the beginning to rise up again and achieve the desired results.
"Sports enhance teamwork. It also brings a spirit of openness and powers us with the capability to accept others. It is essential that we adopt sports as a part of the lives of the youth in our country. To me, sports includes the following attributes. I will expand the word sports to share them: S for Skill; P for Perseverance; O for Optimism; R for Resilience; T for Tenacity; S for Stamina.
"Sports creates a spirit of sportsmanship, which matters both on and off the field. That is why I often say – Jo Khele, Vo Khile- those who play, shine," he said.
Mr. Modi said that, in this inter-connected and inter-dependent world, a nation’s soft power was vital. In addition to a nation’s economic and military strength, a nation’s soft power is seen as central to its identity and sports has become an important part of soft power, he said.
"Given the global reach and fan following of various sports and sports-persons, a country can carve its own niche in the world through sports. Achievers in any sport are global sources of motivation. Youngsters draw inspiration from their success and struggles. During every major international competition, be it an Olympics or a world cup or any other such forum, the entire world takes joy in the achievements of other nations, however big or small they are.
"This is the uniting power of sports.  Sports and culture have a transformative potential in enabling stronger and deeper people to people ties.  Even at home in India, a single player catches the imagination of the whole country. His or her performance acts as uniting force - every one prays for him or her when he or she is on the field.
"The popularity of these athletes lives on beyond their times too. For years, sports, just like the pursuit of knowledge, is a part of Indian culture and tradition. Sports activities like Archery, Swordsmanship, Wrestling, Malkhamb, Boat-Racing are known to have existed for ages. In Kerala, sports such as Kuttiyumkolum, Kalari, have been popular. I am also aware of how popular mud football is.  I am sure many of you know about Sagol Kangjei, which is originally from Manipur. It is said to be older than polo and also played by a wider cross section of society," he said.
The Prime Minister said that it must be ensured that traditional games did not lose their popularity. He said indigenous games too must be promoted as they have evolved organically from people's ways of life.
"People take to these games naturally and playing them will have huge positive impact on the personality and self-esteem of growing minds. Their roots will become stronger. Today the world is taking renewed interest in Yoga. Yoga is being seen as a means to fitness and wellness, a means to lower stress. Our athletes should also consider making Yoga a regular part of their routine and training. The outstanding results will be for everyone to see.
"Being the home of Yoga, it is our added responsibility to make Yoga even more popular across the world. And, like Yoga has become popular, we must think of ways to make our traditional sports popular globally.
"In recent years, you have seen how games like Kabaddi first became a part of international competitions, and now even in the country, large scale kabaddi tournaments are being organized. Corporates are sponsoring these tournaments and I am told these tournaments are being seen widely.
"Just like kabaddi, we have to bring other local indigenous sports from various corners of the country to the national level.   In this, along with the government, other sports related bodies and the society also have a major role. Ours is a country with rich and diverse culture which has almost 100 languages and more than 1600 dialects, different eating habits, dresses and festivals. Sports plays an important role in uniting us.
"Continuous interaction, travel for competitions, matches, training etc gives us the opportunity to understand the culture and tradition of other regions of the country. This strengthens the feeling of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat and contributes immensely to National integration.
"We have no shortage of talent.  But we need to provide right kind of opportunity and create an eco-system to nurture the talent.  We launched a programme Khelo India. Under this programme, competitions will be held in various disciplines from the school and college level to the national level.  Focus will be on identifying talent and then nurture it by providing support," he said, adding that Khelo India also supported sports infrastructure.
Mr. Modi said women had made the country proud by their achievements in all fields, more so in sports. He said people must specially encourage their daughters and provide them with opportunities to take up sports. He said that it was most gladdening to see Indian players putting up their best performance so far at the Paralympics.
He said that during earlier decades there was an environment in which sports were not pursued as a career, but this thinking had begun to change and the results would soon be evident on the playground. "A strong sporting culture can help the growth of a sporting economy," he said.
Mr. Modi appreciated the contribution made by Kerala in the field of sports and games and congratulated all players who had played for India. "I salute the determination of sportpersons who toil for excellence," he said.
He hoped the Usha School would contribute to India's preparation for major international sports events, including the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
"I also urge the sports community to decide on a set of goals in sports when our nation marks 75 years of freedom in 2022 and pledge to realise them.
"I am confident that Usha School will produce more champions in track and field events at Olympics and world events. Government of India will fully support you and will provide all possible help in achieving excellence in athletics," he added.
Death toll in London high-rise fire rises to 17
The death toll in the devastating fire that engulfed a 24-storeyed building of apartments in West London in the early hours of yesterday has risen to 17, with the recovery of five more bodies, official sources said today.
The number is expected to increase as emergency services personnel go through the building, floor by floor, to look for victims in the coming days.
As many as 79 others were admitted to different hospitals in London for treatment of a range of injuries.
According to some sources, there were about 500 residents in the building, Grenfell Tower, on Latimer Road in North Kensington in West London, which had about 130 flats, but there was no estimate about how many were actually in when the fire broke out. Most of those present in the building would have been asleep when the blaze started at around 0045 hours yesterday.
"Sadly I can confirm the number of people that have died is now 17. We do believe that that number will increase," Metropolitan Police Service Commander Stuart Cundy told journalsits.
"From my colleagues in the health service, there are still a number of people who are receiving treatment in hospital. There are 37 people receiving treatment, of which 17 are still in critical care," he said.
"Today is about those who are waiting for news about their loved ones. Our thoughts remain with those so deeply affected by the events over the last 24 hours," Mr. Cundy said.
"Yesterday was a very difficult day, clearly it was challenging overnight particularly for colleagues from fire. Today the work really starts in earnest to ensure that we do the appropriate recovery of everybody from those premises.
"Like we explained yesterday, our absolute priority is identifying and locating those people who are still missing. It would be wrong for me to get into numbers that I do not believe are accurate," he said.
"Our Casualty Bureau number is 0800 0961 233. If you have reported somebody missing and you now know they are safe and well please contact that number so we can identify those that we're still trying to find.
"My heart goes out to those families still trying to find their loved ones. Rest assured, please get in contact with us through the Casualty Bureau and our specialist trained officers will be in touch with you to support you through this," he said.
Mr. Cundy said the recovery operations were going to take a considerable period of time, and the building needed to be made structurally safe so that they could do their job and investigate the incident.
"A large team of specialist detectives will be investigating under Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bonner, alongside colleagues from the fire brigade. But I reiterate again, it is going to be a lengthy process," he said.
London Fire Brigade said they received the first calls about the fire at around 0054 hours yesterday and as many as 40 fire tenders and 200 firefighters reached the scene soon.
The firefighters battled the flames, which spread very quickly and engulfed nearly the entire building, from the second floor to the top floor, leaving many people, epsecially those on the upper floors, with not much time to escape.
Police said they were called at 01:16 hrs to reports of a large fire at a block of flats at the Lancaster West Estate, W11 and officers were rushed there. Emergency services evacuated as many residents as possible from the tower block in extremely difficult circumstances.
The entire area around the building was cordoned off by the police and around 30 adjacent flats to the tower block were evacuated as a precautionary measure. People were advised to avoid the area.
The cause of the fire is not known at this stage. The building had undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment recently.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told journalists at the scene yesterday that, in her 29 years with the London Fire Brigade, she had never seen a fire of this nature. “This is an unprecedented situation, with a major fire that has affected all floors of this 24 storey building, from the second floor up," she said.

Indian Super League gets two new teams -- Bengaluru and Jamshedpur

The Indian Super League, a popular football competition, will in its fourth edition in 2017-18 have an expanded five-month module and see the number of participating clubs increase to ten from the original eight founding-member city clubs.
This will meet the popular demand for a longer ISL and the Football Sports Development Limited's (FSDL) objective of spreading the game to more areas in India, a press release from the organisers said.
FSDL, a joint venture between IMG- Reliance and Star India, yesterday announced the addition of two of India’s largest conglomerates, Tata Steel Ltd. and the JSW Group, into the ISL fold.
The inclusion of the two new clubs came through the ‘Invitation To Bid’ tender process floated by FSDL last month. An independent panel along with consulting firm EY evaluated the bids and presented its report yesterday to the panel in the presence of All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das.
Tata Steel Ltd., which has won the bid to participate in ISL from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, are the pioneering Indian corporate to have provided national football with perennial pool of young footballers since 1987 through its Jamshedpur based facility – Tata Football Academy.
Mr Sunil Bhaskaran, Vice-President Corporate Services, Tata Steel and Chairman TFA, said: “This is a momentous occasion for Tata Steel, which has always been a pioneer in the development of sports in the country, especially football. Our entry into the coveted Indian Super League reinforces our commitment to provide a fillip to the development of football in the country. We are extremely excited to have won the bid for our hometown Jamshedpur and will provide the best of facilities for football to prosper in the eastern part of our country."
JSW Group,  which owns the successful football club Bengaluru FC through its subsidiary JSW Sports, won the right to participate in ISL from Bengaluru city. JSW Group has to its credit a very successful and professionally run football club in I-League within a short period of three years; winning the competition twice including in its debut year.
Parth Jindal, CEO, JSW Bangaluru FC attributed JSW Group’s decision to bid for an ISL team to the “interest of long-term future of Indian football”.
Mr Jindal said, “We’re glad that our bid to be part of the ISL has been accepted. A lot of time and thought has gone into our decision of wanting to be part of the Indian Super League. The biggest factor has been the interest of the long-term future of Indian football. A longer league is the right road ahead.”
Mr. Kushal Das expressed satisfaction on the bid evaluation process, saying, “The interest shown by India’s two large corporates to be part of ISL and Indian football’s growth story is an indication of the growing popularity of the sport in the country. Their contribution to Indian football has been immense and will only set the high standards in ISL.”

Wong Chun Ting, Han Ying among 24 foreign players for Ultimate Table Tennis

Wong Chun Ting of Hong Kong
Wong Chun Ting of Hong Kong
World no. 7 Wong Chun Ting of Hong Kong and world no. 9 Han Ying of Germany will lead the pack of top men and women players, respectively, in Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), the country's first ever professional table tennis league that will be held in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai from July 13.
Wong was last year's bronze medalist in the Men's World Cup. At the Liebherr 2017 World Table Tennis Championships in Duesseldorf, Germany, Wong reached the quarter-finals in men's singles and won a bronze medal in mixed doubles alongside Doo Hoi Kem who is also a part of UTT. 
Germany's Petrissa Solja won a bronze for the host country in mixed doubles alongside Fang Bo from China. The last time a German won a mixed doubles medal was in 1971 making the victory extra special for Solja who is ready for her new challenge at UTT. 
Han Ying will be the top billing among the women in the inaugural edition of the league that will begin in Chennai.  
The table tennis extravaganza will comprise six franchisees and will be hosted in Chennai (July 13-20), New Delhi (July 21 to 26) with the final leg being held in Mumbai (July 27 to 30).
India’s Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra will lead the list of 12 men and 12 women from the country out of a strong pool of 48 players. The Indian duo of Manika Batra and Mouma Das created history  at Germany by becoming the first Indian pair to reach the quarter-finals of the World Table Tennis Championships. 
Each team will have eight players — four men and four women — with an equal mix of overseas and Indian players, apart from a foreign and an Indian coach.
"These are exciting times for us at the Ultimate Table Tennis as we inch closer to the launch of the first ever professional TT league in India. We have received an overwhelming response from foreign players and have a strong pool of Indian talent also. We are ready to kick off what promises to be one of the most entertaining sporting events," said Vita Dani, Chairperson, 11Even Sports.
Mr. Niraj Bajaj, Co-Promoter of UTT and a three-time national table tennis champion, said, “We have a great pool of talent participating in the inaugural season of UTT. Supporting the players are world class Indian and international coaches who have guided national teams to medals in the past. The format provides a great opportunity for Indian players to play alongside top international players which will help their growth tremendously.”
The list of foreign coaches includes former player Elena Timina, currently the coach of Dutch ladies table tennis team, Peter Engel, former Head Coach of Netherlands, Ilija Lupulesku, current National Coach of the Serbian team, Francisco Santos who coached Joao Geraldo of Portugal to a bronze medal in singles and doubles at the European Youth Championships, Belgium national coach for men Ferenc Karsai as well as former Yugoslavia international Vesna Ojsteršek.   
There will be 15 league matches, with each tie played on a nine individual match basis. Each individual match will consist of three games on a race to 11 with each game winner being awarded one point. Each league match will have 27 points to play for and the four franchisees with highest points in the league stage will advance to the semi-finals. The champion will receive Rs. 1 crore, runner-up Rs. 75 lakh and the losing semifinalists Rs. 50 lakh each. The remaining Rs. 25 lakh, from a total purse of Rs. 3 crore, will be presented to individual performers.
Each franchisee will get to pick eight players through a draft that will be conducted on June 9, 2017 to ensure balance of strength for each franchisee. 
The following is the list of players:
Overseas players: 
Men: 1. Wong Chun Ting (Hong Kong, World No. 7), 2. Marcos Freitas (Portugal, World No. 16), 3. Tiago Apolonia (Portugal, World No. 19), 4. Stefan Fegerl (Austria, World No. 21), 5. Kou Lei (Ukraine, World No.24), 6. Panagiotis Gionis (Greece, World No.36), 7. Aruna Quadri (Nigeria, World No. 37), 8. Andrej Gacina (Croatia, World No.38), 9. Par Gerell (Sweden, World No.44), 10. Li Ping (Qatar, World No. 48), 11. Joao Monteiro (Portugal, World No. 49), 12. Liam Pitchford (England, World No. 51)
Women: 1. Han Ying (Germany, World No.9), 2. Wu Yang (China, World No.12), 3. Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong, World No.13), 4. Hu Melek (Turkey, World No.15), 5. Liu Jia (Austria, World No. 17), 6. Petrissa Solja (Germany, World No.20), 7. Lee Ho Ching (Hong Kong, World No. 33), 8. Yu Fu (Portugal, World No.35), 9. Li Qian (Poland, World No. 37), 10. Sabine Winter (Germany, World No.39), 11. Polina Mikhailova (Russia, World No.54), 12. Tetyana Bilenko (Ukraine, World No.56)
Indian players: 
Men: 1. Sharath Kamal Achanta, 2. Soumyajit Ghosh, 3. Harmeet Desai, 4. Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, 5. Amalraj Anthony, 6. Sanil Shetty, 7. Jubin Kumar, 8. Manav Thakkar, 9. Ronit Bhanja, 10. Birdie Boro, 11. Arjun Ghosh, 12. Abhishek Yadav
Women: 1. Manika Batra, 2. Mouma Das, 3. Madhurika Patkar, 4. Pooja Sahasrabudhe, 5. Suthirtha Mukherjee, 6. Mousumi Paul, 7. Krittwika Sinha Roy, 8. Archana Kamath, 9. Moumita Dutta, 10. Amurtha Pushpak, 11. Priyadarshini Das, 12. Selena Deepti Selvakumar

Guha raises questions of "superstar culture", conflicts of interest in letter to Rai

Ramachandra Guha
Ramachandra Guha
Eminent historian Ramachandra Guha, who resigned yesterday from the Committee of Administrators (COA) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI),has in a letter to the chairman of the committee, Vinod Rai, spoken about conflicts of interest involving former cricketing greats and other issues which led him to take the decision.
Among others, he referred to issues involving former players such as Sunil Gavaskar and current player Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He also expressed unhappiness over the manner in which the question of current head coach Anil Kumble's contract was handled. He has also spoken about the low amounts paid as fees to domestic cricketers.
The COA was appointed by the Supreme Court in January to oversee BCCI's affairs after the apex court sacked BCCI President Anurag Thakur and Secretary Ajay Shirke.
Apart from Mr. Rai, former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), and Mr. Guha, others in the committee are former women's cricketer Diana Eduljee and banker Vikram Limaye.
"It has been a pleasure working with Diana, Vikram and you in the Supreme Court Committee of Administrators. It has been an educative experience, spending long hours with three top-flight professionals from whom I have learned a lot in these past few months. However, it has been clear for some time now that my thoughts and views are adjacent to, and sometimes at odds with, the direction the Committee is taking as a whole. That is why I eventually decided to request the Supreme Court to relieve me of the responsibility, and submitted my letter of resignation to the Court on the morning of the 1st of June," he said.
"For the record, and in the interests of transparency, I am here listing the major points of divergence as I see it," he said.
Mr. Guha said he had repeatedly flagged the question of conflict of interest, which had lain unaddressed ever since the committee began its work.
"For instance, the BCCI has accorded preferential treatment to some national coaches, by giving them ten month contracts for national duty, thus allowing them to work as IPL coaches/mentors for the remaining two months. This was done in an ad hoc and arbitrary manner; the more famous the former player-turned-coach, the more likely was the BCCI to allow him to draft his own contract that left loopholes that he exploited to dodge the conflict of interest issue," he said.
He said he had repeatedly pointed out that it was contrary to the spirit of the Lodha Committee for coaches or the support staff of the Indian senior or junior team, or for staff at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), to have contracts in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
"One cannot have dual loyalties of this kind and do proper justice to both. National duty must take precedence over club affiliation," he said.
He said he had first raised this issue to his COA colleagues in an email of February 1 and had raised it several times since.
"I had urged that coaches and support staff for national teams be paid an enhanced compensation, but that this conflict of interest be stopped. When, on the 11th of March, I was told that that there was a camp scheduled for young players at the National Cricket Academy but at least one national coach was likely to be away on IPL work and might not attend the camp, I wrote to you:
"'No person under contract with an India team, or with the NCA, should be allowed to moonlight for an IPL team too.
'BCCI in its carelessness (or otherwise) might have drafted coaching/support staff contracts to allow this dual loyalty business, but while it might be narrowly legal as per existing contracts, it is unethical, and antithetical to team spirit, leading to much jealousy and heart-burn among the coaching staff as a whole. This practice is plainly wrong, as well as antithetical to the interests of Indian cricket. 
'I would like an explicit and early assurance from the BCCI management that such manifestly inequitous loopholes in coaching/support staff contracts will be plugged.'
Mr. Guha said that no such assurance was given and no action taken. The BCCI management and office-bearers have, in the absence of explicit directions from the COA, allowed the status quo to continue. 
He said he had also repeatedly pointed to the anomaly whereby BCCI-contracted commentators simultaneously act as player agents. He recalled that he had, in a mail of March 19 to the COA, drawn their attention to a report in the Indian Express, and said:
"Sunil Gavaskar is head of a company which represents Indian cricketers while commenting on those crickters as part of the BCCI TV commentary panel. This is a clear conflict of interest. Either he must step down/withdraw himself from PMG completely or stop being a commentator for BCCI.
"I think prompt and swift action on this matter is both just and necessary. COA’s credibility and effectiveness hinges on our being able to take bold and correct decisions on such matters. The ‘superstar’ culture that afflicts the BCCI means that the more famous the player (former or present) the more leeway he is allowed in violating norms and procedures. (Dhoni was captain of the Indian team while holding a stake in a firm that represented some current India players.) This must stop – and only we can stop it," he said.
"Yet, despite my warnings, no action has been initiated in the several months that the Committee has been in operation.
"As the mail quoted above noted, one reasons the conflict of interest issue has lingered unaddressed is that several of the game’s superstars, past and present, have been guilty of it. The BCCI management is too much in awe of these superstars to question their violation of norms and procedures. For their part, BCCI office-bearers like to enjoy discretionary powers, so that the coaches or commentrators they favour are indebted to them and do not ever question their own mistakes or malpractices. But surely a Supreme Court appointed body should not be intimidated by the past or present achievements of a cricketer, and instead seek to strive to be fair and just," he said.
Mr. Guha said conflict of interest was rampant in the State Associations as well. 
"One famous former cricketer is contracted by media houses to comment on active players while serving as President of his State Association. Others have served as office-bearers in one Association and simultaneously as coaches or managers in another. The awarding of business contracts to friends and relatives by office-bearers is reported to be fairly widespread.
"Had we been more proactive in stopping conflict of interest within the BCCI (as per Lodha Committee recommendations, endorsed by the Court), this would surely have had a ripple effect downwards, putting pressure on State Assocations to clean up their act as well," he said.
Mr. Guha said that, unfortunately, this superstar syndrome had also distorted the system of Indian team contracts.
"As you will recall, I had pointed out that awarding MS Dhoni an ‘A’ contract when he had explicitly ruled himself out from all Test matches was indefensible on cricketing grounds, and sends absolutely the wrong message," he said.
He also felt that the way in which the contract of Anil Kumble, the current Head Coach of the senior team, had been handled.
"The Indian team’s record this past season has been excellent; and even if the players garner the bulk of the credit, surely the Head Coach and his support staff also get some. In a system based on justice and merit, the Head Coach’s term would have been extended. Instead, Kumble was left hanging, and then told the post would be re-advertised afresh.
"Clearly, the issue has been handled in an extremely insensitive and unprofessional manner by the BCCI CEO and the BCCI office-bearers, with the COA, by its silence and inaction, unfortunately being complicit in this regard. (Recall that the Court Order of 30 January had expressly mandated us to supervise the management of BCCI.) In case due process had to be followed since Kumble’s original appointment was only for one year, why was this not done during April and May, when the IPL was on? If indeed the captain and the Head Coach were not getting along, why was this not attended to as soon as the Australia series was over in late March? Why was it left until the last minute, when a major international tournament was imminent, and when the uncertainty would undermine the morale and ability to focus of the coach, the captain and the team? And surely giving senior players the impression that they may have a veto power over the coach is another example of superstar culture gone berserk? Such a veto power is not permitted to any other top level professional team in any other sport in any other country. Already, in a dismaying departure from international norms, current Indian players enjoy a veto power on who can be the members of the commentary team. If it is to be coaches next, then perhaps the selectors and even office-bearers will follow?" he said.
Mr. Guha said that, ever since the Supreme Court announced the formation of the COA, they had been inundated, individually and collectively, by hundreds of mails asking them to address various ills that afflict Indian cricket and its administration. 
"While many of these issues were trivial or clearly beyond our purview, there was one concern that we should have done far more to address. This concerns the callous treatment to domestic cricket and cricketers, namely, those who represent their state in the Ranji Trophy, the Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and other inter-state tournaments. The IPL may be Indian cricket’s showpiece; but surely the enormous revenues it generates should be used to make our domestic players more financially secure? There are many more Indian cricketers who make their living via the Ranji Trophy than via IPL; besides, for us to have a consistently strong Test team (especially overseas) we need a robust inter-state competition and therefore must seek to compensate domestic players better," he said.
"And yet, shockingly, Ranji match fees have remained at a very low level (a mere Rs 30,000 odd for each day of play); moreover, cheques for match fees sent by the BCCI are sometimes not passed on by the state associations to the players. We need to learn from best practices in other countries, where domestic players are awarded annual contracts like those in the national team, while their match fees are reasonably competitive too.
"Several months ago, the experienced cricket administrator Amrit Mathur prepared an excellent note on the need for better and fairer treatment of domestic players. Both Diana and I have repeatedly urged action, but this has not happened," he said.
Mr. Guha said he beleived it was a mistake for the COA to have stayed silent and inactive when the Supreme Court judgment was being so flagrantly violated by people clearly disqualified to serve as office bearers of state and even BCCI run cricket bodies. 
"The disqualified men were openly attending BCCI meetings, claiming to represent their state association, and indeed played a leading role in the concerted (if fortunately in the end aborted) attempt to get the Indian team to boycott the Champions Trophy. All these illegalities were widely reported in the press; yet the COA did not bring them to the notice of the Court, and did not issue clear directions asking the offenders to desist either.
"I believe that the lack of attention to these (and other such issues) is in part due to the absence of a senior and respected male cricketer on our Committee," he said.
He referred to a mail he had written on February 1, before the COA's first meeting, before their first full meeting, in which he had said:
"I much look forward to meeting you all later today. I know Vikram already and greatly admire both Vinod and Diana for their remarkable work in their chosen fields, and am truly honoured to be working with them as well.
"I presume apart from discussing IPL, etc, with the BCCI representative we will get some time to discuss the way forward separately. I have several ideas which I wish to share with you about our collective responsibility, and wanted in this mail to flag what is most important of these. This is that we must incorporate into our committee of administrators, either as a full member or as a special invitee, a senior male cricketer with the distinction and integrity that Diana has. That will greatly enhance both our credibility and our ability to make informed decisions.
"The absence of a respected male cricketer in the COA has attracted a great deal of criticism already, much of it from important stakeholders in Indian cricket. It must be addressed and remedied. The amicus curae had suggested two outstanding names, Venkat and Bedi, both of whom were rejected because they were over seventy. However, there are some cricketers of the right age and experience who fit the bill. Based on my knowledge of the subject, I would say Javagal Srinath would be an excellent choice. He is a world-class cricketer, was a successful and scandal-free Secretary of the Karnataka State Cricket Association and is an ICC match referee, and comes from an educated technical background to boot. I strongly urge the Chairman and the other members to consider approaching him in this regard. He would complement Diana perfectly, and the combination of these two respected and top class former cricketers would enhance our credibility and effectiveness enormously.
"While Srinath is in my view the best choice, there are other alternative names too. I hope we can set aside some time at our meeting to discuss and resolve the issue," he had said in that mail, adding that he had not discussed the issue with Srinath or anyone else.
Mr. Guha said he had raised the issue in a formal meeting of the COA as well, but unfortunately his proposal to invite a senior male cricketer to join the committee was not acted upon.
"We should have approached the Court to take necessary action, or else incorporated a senior, respected, male cricketer as a special invitee. With such a person on board the COA would have gained in experience, knowledge, understanding, and, not least, credibility. Indeed, had we such a person on board, the BCCI management and the office-bearers would have been compelled to be far more proactive in implementing the Lodha Committee recommendations than they have been thus far. As the only cricketers on the COA, Diana’s contributions have been invaluable; on many issues of administration and the rights of players she has brought a perspective based on a first-hand experience that the rest of us lacked. A male counterpart would have complemented and further enriched her contributions; but perhaps it is not too late to make amends.
"While all our meetings were held in a cordial atmosphere, between meetings perhaps there was not adequate consultation, and there were several crucial decisions made where all the COA members were not brought into the loop. For instance, a capable, non-political Senior Counsel representing the COA and the BCCI in the Supreme Court was abruptly replaced by another Senior Counsel who is a party politician. Surely other COA members should have been consulted by email or by phone before this important change was made.
"I have taken too much of your time already, but permit me to make one last suggestion. This is that the place vacated by me on the Committee of Administrators be filled by a senior, respected, male cricketer with administrative experience," Mr. Guha added.

BCCI invites applications for position of Head Coach for men's cricket team

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has invited applications from interested candidates for the position of Head Coach for the Senior India men's cricket team.
The process has been initiated because of the term of the current coach, Anil Kumble, will end with the Champions Trophy tournament. Kumble will be a direct entry for the process, BCCI sources said.
According to the BCCI, to ensure a fair and completely transparent process, a nominee of the Board's Committee of Administrators (CoA) will oversee the entire process along with the Cricket Advisory Committee. 
The BCCI's three-member Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising former players Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and V V S Laxman, will conduct interviews and seek presentations to select the best possible candidate to guide the team and take Indian Cricket forward.
Interested candidates should send their applications by e-mail on or before the 31st of May 2017 to, BCCI Honorary Acting Secretary Amitabh Chaudhary said.
The BCCI said on its website that candidates applying for the position would have to meet the following conditions:
1. Should have successfully coached a cricket team of any of the member countries of the ICC, at the first class or at the International level. 
2. It is preferred that the candidate should be qualified through a certification/assessment program conducted by any of the full member countries and currently possess such a valid certification. 
3. Should be able to prepare and present a coaching plan elaborating the approach for 'Team India’ to attain leadership position in all formats of the game.
4. Demonstrate methods/tools to effectively measure individual player performance and present metrics to the Board, which will in turn measure the performance of the team, on a consistent and timely basis.
5. Demonstrate an understanding and ability of employing a multi-disciplinary approach that will include sports psychology and sports medicine, and effectively manage the work load of the players, thereby enhancing their contribution to the cause of the team
6. Communication skills befitting the coach of an international team are mandatory along with the ability to effectively convey the right messages and must demonstrate proficiency in English. It is desirable to communicate in Hindi and other regional Indian languages.
7. Should be well versed with the latest technologies/trends in sports software and ability to utilise the same, which will assist in analysing/ improving the performance of the player and the team.
8. Mandatory that the candidate should have an impeccable personal record, devoid of any past or current disputes, with any of the member boards of the ICC or its affiliates.
9. Demonstrate plans and ability to contribute to the NCA Cricket Development Programmes and forecasting/planning to develop the next generation of cricketers and agree to make themselves available for the NCA, as and when they are not with the team.

11Even Sports to launch Ultimate Ping Pong in July 2017

File photo of Indian table tennis player Soumyajit Ghosh
File photo of Indian table tennis player Soumyajit Ghosh
11Even Sports Pvt. Ltd. (ESPL), a company formed exclusively to promote table tennis in India, today announced the launch of its new franchise league, Ultimate Ping Pong (UPP), with support from the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI).
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has provided a dedicated window for UPP, a press release from ESPL said.
The release said the inaugural season would be played from July 13 to July 30, 2017 in three cities -- Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai -- and will witness participation from six franchises. The first two legs will be held in Chennai and Delhi before UPP shifts base to Mumbai for the finale.
UPP will feature a total of 48 world class paddlers (24 men’s players and 24 women’s players) including 24 Indians. Each franchise will comprise eight paddlers - two Indian men players, two Indian women players, two foreign men players and two foreign women players. They will battle it out for the ultimate championship and prize pool of US$ 450,000 (about INR 3 crore), making it the highest ever prize money for a table tennis event in the country.
ESPL recently concluded India’s first ever Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open with support of TTFI in Delhi in February 2017 and with UPP it hopes to take table tennis to a larger audience in the country. 
Niraj R. Bajaj, one of the Promoter Directors of Bajaj Group, Chairman and Managing Director, Mukand Ltd., has come on board with ESPL as a co-promoter of UPP. His interest in UPP and vision to promote table tennis in India stems from his days as a three-time national champion. An Arjuna Award recipient, he has represented India from 1970 to 1977, being captain for the last four years. 
“Table tennis is close to my heart and I have been contributing to the development of the sport. With Ultimate Ping Pong I found the right platform to begin our journey in making India a medal contending nation in table tennis at the Olympics," Bajaj said.
Ms. Vita Dani, Chairperson, ESPL, said, “We are extremely glad to move forward in promoting table tennis in India with the introduction of Ultimate Ping Pong. We received great feedback both nationally and internationally with the way India Open was organised and UPP will take the sport to greater heights with fans getting to witness 48 of the top paddlers.”
ITTF President Thomas Weikert said, “ESPL recently organised Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open very productively and we received great feedback from various participating players and coaches. We wish all success to Ultimate Ping Pong and look forward to increase the reach and interest of the game in India.”
Mr. Dushyant Chautala, President, TTFI, added, “We are extremely proud to be associated with the Ultimate Ping Pong as it is one of the most premier events for the sport ever to be held on an annual basis in India. We thank 11Even Sports for their efforts to build table tennis and are sure that UPP will act as a catalyst to build everyone’s interest in the sport and get youngsters interested to play the game."

Ace athlete P T Usha all set to start Athletics Academy in Kerala

Noted athlete P T Usha called on Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports Vijay Goel here today to invite him to the opening ceremony of Usha School of Athletics set up by her at Kozhikode in Kerala on June 15.
The academy to train budding athletes, spread across 30 acres, is constructed at a cost of Rs. 8.5 crore sanctioned by the Centre. 
The key feature of the academy will be an 8-lane synthetic track. Other features include a mud track, a 40-bed hostel and a gymnasium. The academy will have a team of trained coaches, physiotherapists and other key officials to assist the athletes.
Mr. Goel promised all possible support to Usha so that the academy finds the best talent to represent India at the world stage, an official press release said.

FSDL invites bids for new teams in Indian Super League

Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), organisers of the Indian Super League, a city based football league established in India in 2014 under the sanction of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), plans to invite bids from interested parties to enrol and participate in the Indian Super League from its fourth edition to be staged in 2017-2018.
FSDL will be floating the tender through ‘Invitation To Bid’ (ITB) to be available on working days starting 12th May 2017 to 24th May 2017, a press release from FSDL said.
Bids are invited from prospective team owners in respect of 10-cities --  Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cuttack, Durgapur, Hyderabad, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Ranchi, Siliguri and Thiruvananthapuram.
Under and subject to the ITB, one to three new winning bidders shall be enrolled and awarded the right to participate in the Indian Super League. 
The release clarified that in case of the city of Kolkata being awarded to the winning bidder, the respective team shall hold its home games outside Kolkata for the next two consecutive Indian Super League Seasons (2017/2018 and 2018/2019).
All bidding parties will need to fulfil the eligibility criteria and other requirements specified in the ITB including but not limited to summary of plans to operate their team in the league, including the business model and plan to develop the sport at the grassroots level. The bid documents must be submitted on Thursday, 25th May 2017.
Eight teams currently participate in the Indian Super League- Atletico de Kolkata, Chennaiyin FC, Delhi Dynamos FC, FC Goa, FC Pune City, Kerala Blasters FC, NorthEast United FC and Mumbai City FC.

Sesa Football Academy in Goa reaches out to budding talent across India

Sesa Football Academy boys with former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia and top executives of Vedanta, including Mr. Sukhvinder Singh, CEO of the Vedanta Football Project; Mr. Sauvick Mazumdar – COO-Vedanta- Sesa Goa Iron Ore; Mr. Annanya Agarwal – President Sesa Football Academy, Mr. Kishore Kumar – CEO Vedanta Sesa Goa Iron ore, Ms. Leena Verenkar – Head Corporate Affairs and Community Relations in Goa on May 10, 2017.
Sesa Football Academy boys with former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia and top executives of Vedanta, including Mr. Sukhvinder Singh, CEO of the Vedanta Football Project; Mr. Sauvick Mazumdar – COO-Vedanta- Sesa Goa Iron Ore; Mr. Annanya Agarwal – President Sesa Football Academy, Mr. Kishore Kumar – CEO Vedanta Sesa Goa Iron ore, Ms. Leena Verenkar – Head Corporate Affairs and Community Relations in Goa on May 10, 2017.
In an effort to reach out to budding talent aross India, multi-national natural resources conglomerate Vedanta's Sesa Football Academy (SFA) in Goa has selected 22 boys in the age group of 14-17 years from all over the country for training to become professional and national-level players.
The selected players are from the states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala, Manipur, Sikkim, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana as well as Zambia, where the group has its operations.
A press release from Vedanta said the selection panel consisted of experts such as Bramhanand Sankhwalkar, former India captain and Arjuna Awardee), Bruno Coutinho, former national player and Arjuna Awardee, Francis D’souza, former national player and well-known coach, Armando Colaco, five-time National Football League winning coach and former India coach, and Denzil Franco, a product of the academy and national team member.
The academy is implementing a strategic roadmap to actively foster skill development in sports across the country. The release said SFA had contributed immensely to the development of football players in Goa. 
"FA has created the conditions for discovering, creating and building talent for football and has been an alma mater in a class of its own. The group now aims to build on the legacy of the academy and develop budding players in football from across the nation," the release said.
The academy runs on a residential basis and imparts systematic and scientific training and lays emphasis to develop the potential and grooms the youngsters to become full-fledged professional players. It takes care of the formal education of the trainees during the four-year training period. 
SFA presently has an intake capacity of 36 boys being trained at its Sankhali premises.
The group now plans to beef up the infrastructure facilities at its Sirsaim Academy and match it to global standards. The skill development model that the company has adopted is to scout for young talent and hone them in the sport and equip them with certain sports related skills that could help carve professionalism. 
The advisory panel of SFA includes celebrity football player and former India captain Baichung Bhutia, apart from the management team of Vedanta.
Mr. Annanya Agarwal, President, Sesa Football Academy said, “Sports is the medium that can inspire and engage youth in an indescribable way. It is a language that can help skill latent talent which has not been realized and that is what we aim to do through this initiative. Sesa Community Development Foundation (SCDF) has immensely contributed through various CSR initiatives to the local communities.
"One of our key objectives therefore has been around nurturing football talent through the SFA and give to the nation our heroes in sport. I believe we have displayed this commitment by bringing on the best management team in the country, including Sukhvinder Singh and Bhaichung Bhutia. 
"Women’s football is a large part of this initiative as there is not enough infrastructure for women in football and SFA will strive to bridge this gap.”
Mr. Sukhvinder Singh, newly appointed CEO of the Vedanta Football Project said, “Sesa Football Academy has made immense contribution to football in Goa and now we at Vedanta are taking the efforts to another level. The aim is to further develop the academy set-up and intensify our efforts on youth development specifically for Goa at Sankhali and the nation at the Sirsaim academy. We shall create community outreach through the Vedanta Football Schools that shall take the technical capabilities to the players and coaches of our communities around us.”
Bhutia said “It is lovely to be back in Goa. It brings back many memories of my childhood. The SFA has been doing a lot of good work in football by grooming players. It is good to see the revival with good coaches the academy has. I am sure the academy will produce good football talent. The time is apt as the nation now sees a great amount of interest generated around this sport.”
Vedanta-Sesa Goa Iron Ore CEO Kishore Kumar said “I see a bright future not only for Goa but for the game with many enthusiasts now taking to football. We are excited to be part of this journey. The SFA helps children coming from all over including Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns providing the opportunity and access to world class infrastructure, facilities and training. We have a strong connect through the medium of sports wherever we operate and we are humbled that we can serve the communities by motivating and encouraging a passion to help them live a dream and a dream become a reality.”
The new logo of the academy was also unveiled on the occasion along with the launch of a new jersey.
Also present on the occasion were Mr. Sauvick Mazumdar – COO-Vedanta- Sesa Goa Iron Ore, Ms. Leena Verenkar – Head Corporate Affairs and Community Relations, Mrs. Sangeetha Chakravarthy-Head Corporate Communications and staff of the company.

Ola ties up with cricket academies to offer scholarships to driver partners’ children

Ola, one of India’s leading mobile apps for transportation, announced a tie-up with leading cricket academies in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Pune, including the Cricket Academy of Pathans (CAP), to provide three-month cricket scholarships to children of its driver partners. 
Children will be selected and given an opportunity to test and hone their skills under the guidance of professional cricket coaches, a press release from the company said.
The scholarships will help in unearthing new talent and give young children a platform to kick-start their budding cricketing careers, it said.
The release said the initiative was part of the ‘Ola Partners League’ (OPL) - a unique virtual cricket game for driver partners that was launched on April 24 and has seen an encouraging response from drivers across seven cities.
Trials to select the deserving children will be held at their academies and the participating children will be put through a selection process that will evaluate their batting, bowling, and fielding abilities. The selected children will undergo training by professional coaches who include former Ranji and national players, who will guide them on enhancing their game along with providing advice on physical fitness, sportsman spirit, and handling pressure, among others. All selected children will be given complete cricket kits, OPL jerseys as well as other goodies, the release said.
Vishal Kaul, COO at Ola, said, “Cricket is more than just a game in India and there are millions who wish to make it to the big league. There is immense talent across the country and we want to play a role in encouraging the 'cricket champions of tomorrow'. 
"While Ola Partners League (OPL) is being played virtually by lakhs of our driver partners, we also wanted to engage with their families. Scholarships at cricket academies are an excellent opportunity for the children of our driver partners to transform their cricketing dreams into a reality. The initial response around OPL across the seven cities has been very encouraging and we are expecting a similar response through this initiative as well. There is great anticipation across the organisation to see who these deserving kids will be and Ola is proud to play a significant role in creating such opportunities through OPL.”
OPL has popular Indian all-rounder cricketer Irfan Pathan and famous TV personality Mandira Bedi as its ambassadors.  
“I am thrilled to be a part of Ola Partners League, a novel initiative undertaken by our home grown company - Ola. While OPL focuses on rewarding driver partners by allotting runs for rides they complete and tasks they fulfil through its digital platform, it is heartening to see that Ola is also supporting their children by offering scholarships across India through OPL. I personally believe that (Cricket Academy of Pathans) CAP is a ground to unearth the next-gen of talented cricketers and this initiative of Ola is indeed a remarkable step in that direction," Pathan said.
“It is very heartening to see companies like Ola coming to the forefront by creating engaging properties like OPL for their driver partners. Like the game of cricket brings the entire country together, I am confident that OPL will have many takers and will bring together the driver partner community to play together while representing their cities. I also applaud the initiative to identify bright young kids and give them access to cricket training at some of the best academies in the country," Bedi said.

Tata Housing to build India’s biggest gymnastics centre in Thane

Real estate developer Tata Housing today said it would build India's largest gymnastics centre in Thane, near here, in partnership with the Thane Municipal Corporation.
A press release from the company said the 1.2 lakh square foot centre would be developed in a public-private partnership model with the civic body at Pokhran Road No. 2 in the city.
The multi-storeyed facility would include an arena to accommodate all six disciplines of gymnastics, two team rooms with separate areas for players and coaches, a physiotherapy room, a music room, VIP rooms, a jury room, an administration area, a gymnasium, and a yoga room. 
It will also be designed to host 300 viewers, complete with parking space, the release said.
Mr. Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing, said, “We are honored to associate with the Thane Municipal Corporation to develop India’s largest gymnastics centre. The centre will be designed to international specifications, will provide access to world class training facilities and equipment.  We are committed to supporting the state and the nation in its efforts to nurture world class gymnasts, and we believe this facility built exclusively for gymnasts is a step in that direction.”
Ms. Pooja Surve, gymnast, coach and Shiv Chhatrapati awardee, said, “This facility, including flooring and equipment, will be designed as per international standards and serve all six disciplines of gymnastics. Moreover, it will exclusively focus on the sport of gymnastics allowing young and seasoned players to train in an uninterrupted and safe environment. I believe facilities of this kind will encourage younger players to pursue the sport and be trained up to Olympic standards.”
Situated in close proximity to the Upvan Lake, the location is famous for hosting the Sanskruti Arts Festival. It is one of the biggest lakes in Thane and surrounded by Yeoor Hills.

Sports networking site Viktre expands into India

Viktre, a content publishing platform and online community for professional athletes and fans, expanded into the Indian market today.
Apart from its India-based partners, cricketers Zaheer Khan and Rohit Sharma were present at the launch of the sports networking site.
Curated to showcase the life of an athlete, Viktre provides a multi-faceted network and community for professional athletes to connect on a more personal level with their fans. The platform features two interfaces: One for fans to interact with their favorite athletes via exclusive content, and one for professional athletes of all levels to interact with each other in a private, peer-to-peer setting.
“Launching in India has been an enormous goal of ours since day one,” said Al Steele, founder and CEO, Viktre. “We are thrilled to commemorate our expansion with these amazing athletes and delegates, who have helped us celebrate the rich sports culture in India. Viktre is all about embracing and celebrating the craftsmanship of athletes and the loyalty of sports fans. There’s few places on earth that have the same enthusiasm as Indian players and fans.”
A press release from Viktre said the platform, which is already operating in North America, was keen on developinga footprint in India.
The company is currently partnered with over 1,000 of the world’s most influential athletes, representing a myriad of sports and interests from golf to football and now cricket and boxing.
"Viktre's unique way of communicating with fans and athletes allows me to tell my personal stories – about cricket, charity, and family – all in my own voice and from my distinct point of view,” said Anil Kumble, head coach of the Indian cricket team. “It is wonderful to see a Canadian company investing in India, in Indian athletes and Indian sports.“
The official launch event was held at the Cricket Club of India here, with delegates and athlete partners from around the world. John Tory, mayor of Toronto, Canada, was also in attendance to represent and celebrate the prosperity of Canadian-Indian business relations, both in India and Canada. 
The social network can be accessed online or via its iOS and Android app, the release added.

Gazprom’s Football for Friendship international children’s project debuts in India

One young Indian footballer will play for the first time in the fifth season of the Football for Friendship (F4F) to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia from June 26 to July 4 as the international children's social project makes its debut in India.
This was announced by energy major Gazprom, official partner of FIFA and the 2018 FIFA World Cup while launching the F4F program in India for the first time.
A press release from the organisers said the project's geographical scope had expanded considerably in 2017, with the number of participating countries doubling from 32 to 64.
"This year, India will make their F4F debut. The project has thus brought together young footballers from four continents: Africa, Eurasia, and the Americas.
The release said the fifth season would be held in a new format. Instead of representing football clubs from different countries, young players will be divided into eight international Friendship Teams.
The teams’ composition and the playing positions of the participants were determined by a draw procedure. Individual player selection will take place at the Friendship Relay Race. The F4F International Organizing Committee will join efforts with national football federations to select young athletes for the 2017 competition. Eight-player teams will comprise boys and girls aged 12 years old, including those with disabilities, the release said. The draw procedure took place via an online conference. 
On April 25, the project will be joined by tens of thousands of children and adults celebrating the International Day of Football and Friendship. Each of them will wear a Friendship Bracelet, the official symbol of F4F, with blue and green threads interwoven to symbolize equality and healthy living.
On July 1, St. Petersburg will host the Gazprom Football for Friendship International Championship, bringing together players of different ethnicities, genders and physical capabilities. July 2 will see the Fifth Football for Friendship International Children's Forum, which will allow youngsters to discuss with famous footballers and journalists how to promote the project’s values around the world.
The fifth season of the F4F project will conclude with a visit by the participating children to the final match of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 at the St. Petersburg Stadium.
“Gazprom pursues global projects that look forward into the future, and the F4F project is closely aligned with that goal. In a mere four years, the number of participating countries grew eightfold. This year, St. Petersburg will host young footballers from as many as four continents. It means that the values of our social project are meaningful and relevant to children and teenagers all around the globe,” said Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee.
“Gazprom’s initiative will give a voice to children from around the world and we wholeheartedly endorse the goals and key values of the F4F project. We are delighted to support the initiatives of the F4F Organizing Committee until the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” said Philippe Le Floc’h, FIFA’s Chief Commercial Officer.
The F4F international children's social project is implemented by Gazprom within the Gazprom for Children program. The project is aimed at developing youth football and fostering tolerance and respect toward different cultures and ethnicities among children from across the world. The key values supported and promoted by the project's participants include friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honor.
The annual Football for Friendship International Children's Forum is the project’s most important event, bringing together young footballers from different countries who discuss worldwide promotion of the key values with media professionals and famous football players.
The F4F project has a special prize: the Nine Values Cup is a unique trophy awarded annually to a professional football club for the implementation of social initiatives based on the project’s values. The winner is chosen by young F4F ambassadors through a vote held in all countries participating in the project.
Hundreds of young athletes become ambassadors for the F4F movement and its values in their respective countries. The Friendship Bracelet, the official symbol of F4F, is worn by over 400,000 people across the world, including children, adults, well-known athletes and journalists, performers, political figures, and heads of state.
In 2017, the project’s participating countries are: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Mozambique, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

BCCI doubles men cricketers' retainer amounts, enhances match fees

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today doubled the annual retainer for all categories of men cricketers, with the amount going up to Rs. 2 crore per annum for Grade A players, to Rs. 1 crore per annum for Grade B players and Rs. 50 lakh per annum for Grade C players.
The decision was taken by the BCCI's Committee of Administrators, which met earlier in the day and decided on the Annual Player Contracts for men cricketers for the period ending September 30, 2017.
A press release from BCCI said the Match Fee enhancement for men cricketers will be effective from October 1, 2016 onwards. It will be Rs 15 lakh per Test, Rs 6 lakh per ODI and Rs 3 lakh for T20 International.
While updating the list of contracted players, the BCCI has demoted batsman Shikhar Dhawan to Grade C from Grade B, while Suresh Raina does not figure in any of the three groups.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and Murali Vijay have been promoted to Grade A, where they join Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane.
Following is the updated list of contracted players:
Grade A: Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay.
Grade B: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuvraj Singh.
Grade C: Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Amit Mishra, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Karun Nair, Hardik Pandya, Ashish Nehra, Kedar Jadhav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Parthiv Patel, Jayant Yadav, Mandeep Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shardul Thakur, Rishabh Pant
The BCCI also handed over a cheque for Rs. 15 lakh to Ms. Sandhya Rajesh Sawant, wife of late Rajesh Sawant, who passed away while he was on official assignment with the India Under 19 team, in recognition of his services to Indian cricket.

TT: Ovtcharov wins men's single at India Open, Mori is women's champ

Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov brought the dream run of Japan’s 13-year-old sensation Tomokazu Harimoto to an abrupt end to capture the men’s singles title in the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open at the Thyagaraja Sports Complex here on Sunday.
The top seeded World No. 5, a medal winner in the last three Olympic Games, romped to an 11-6, 11-8, 11-4,14-12 victory to pocket the winner’s prize money of $18,000 in the prestigious $150,000 tournament.
Harimoto, who beat India’s Achanta Sharath Kamal in the semi-finals on Saturday night, however, had the satisfaction of seeing his compatriot Sakura Mori complete a grand double, adding the women’s singles title to the under-21 crown that she won earlier during the week.
The Ukrainian-born Ovtcharov just did not allow the Japanese youngster to play his attacking game, mixing his serves and attacking ferociously with his forehand. He won the first three games in no time even as Harimoto desperately tried to get his deceptive backhands going. 
In the fourth game, Harimoto put up a fight, taking the lead (3-1) for the first time in the contest. But he soon learnt that Ovtcharov was in a different league, as he slipped to 4-5. 
Earlier, the sixth seeded Mori, ranked No. 37 in the world, came back from a game down to claim the crown 4-3 (7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 12-10, 6-11, 8-11, 11-6) in a fitting finish to the $150,000 tournament. It was her first World Tour title.
Interestingly, 34-year old Matilda Ekholm also was on the cusp of a double, after pocketing the doubles crown in the company of her Hungarian partner Georgina Pota just an hour earlier. She and Pota toppled the top seeded pair of Hoi Kem Doo and Ho Ching Lee from Hong Kong in a five-game thriller 9-11, 11-3, 5-11, 14-12, 11-8.
Ekholm claimed the first game 11-7 even before Mori got into her groove. But once the Japanese player started firing her forehand top spins, she couldn’t find the strokes to counter her. 
She lost the next two games comprehensively 3-11, 5-11 to almost turn it into a one-sided affair. But then, she retrieved some resilience from her repertoire and fought all the way to the wire in the fourth game. She had a couple of opportunities to regain ground but failed to capitalise on them and lost 12-14.
Sakura Mori
Sakura Mori
That, however, gave her the confidence to take on her 21-year-old opponent in an attacking vein. She used her forehand smashes a lot more diligently to win the next two games 11-6, 11-8 to take the contest to the decider.
The seventh game, sadly, turned out to be an anti-climax. Ekholm committed one mistake after another to quickly go down 0-5. It turned to 2-9 to turn and even though clawed her way back to 5-9, it was just a matter of time after that
Women's Doubles
[4]Matilda Ekholm (SWE)/[3] Georgina Pota (HUN) Beat [1] Hoi Kem Doo (HKG)/[2] Ho Ching Lee (HKG) - 9-11, 11-3, 5-11, 14-12, 11-8
Men's Doubles
[9] Masataka Morizono (JPN)/[5] Yuya Oshima (JPN) Beat [10] Ruwen Filus (GER)/[12] Ricardo Walther (GER) - 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9
Women's Singles
[6] Sakura Mori (JPN) Beat [4] Matilda Ekholm (SWE) - 7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 10-12, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6
Men's Singles
[1] Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) vs [14] Tomokazu Harimoto (JPN) - 11-6, 11-8, 11-4, 14-12

TT: Sharath Kamal keeps Indian dream alive; wins a thriller to enter last four in India Open

Achanta Sharath Kamal of India
Achanta Sharath Kamal of India
India’s Achanta Sharath Kamal pulled off a nerve-wracking 4-3 victory against sixth-seeded Paul Drinkhall of England to surge into the semifinals of the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open at the Thyagaraj Stadium here today.
The seven-time national champion and World No. 62 had to pull out his prime defensive game to outwit and outlast Drinkall, a multiple medal winner in the last two Commonwealth Games.
It proved to be a battle of nerves and patience as Drinkall slowed down the pace of the contest, keeping the ball short while also loading it with devastating spin. Sharath was not allowed to play his natural, attacking game and the two had to rely on each other’s errors to win every point.
Sharath began on a strong note, racing away to a 11-4 win in the opening game. But Drinkhall quickly got his game together and frustrated and stunned Sharath with his well thought out tactics. He won the next two games 12-10, 11-9 to put the pressure entirely on the Indian, who had the full backing of a heavily invested home crowd.
The 34-year-old Sharath began to look for openings to attack from that stage, and came back strongly to win the next two 12-10, 11-9. He jumped to a 3-0 lead but allowed Drinkhall to catch up with him. He went up 6-4 but then conceded four points to lose the psychological advantage. Drinkhall rode on the momentum to take the sixth game and place the match on the needle.
By now, the crowds were on the edge even though he made a strong start in the decider, going up 2-0 and 3-1.  But Drinkhall fought back and took a commanding 8-5 lead. Sharath continued to attack and it helped him to stay in the contest. He saved two match points and a couple of forehand drives saw him emerge triumphant. 
He will take on Japan’s 14-year-old sensation Tomokazu Harimoto, who beat the eighth seeded Robert Gardos of Austria 4-2, earlier in the day. 
Earlier in the day, top-seeded Ovtcharov Dimitrij survived a scare to advance into the semi-finals after a gruelling 4-3 victory over Yuya Oshima of Japan.  The World No. 5 German who came into the match without dropping a game could not get the desired start and lost the opening game 7-11. He regained his composure to win the next three games 11-8, 11-6, 11-8 to move into a strong position. Down 1-3 and staring at the bottom of the barrel, the 39th ranked Japanese upped the ante to take the next two games 11-4, 11-6 to restore parity. 
Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany
Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany
With the scores tied, both the players displayed great tenacity and got involved in a neck-to-neck battle. However, it was the German who prevailed 12-10 to move into the last four. He will now take on the third seeded Koki Niwa of Japan who sealed his berth in the semis by registering an easy 4-1 victory over the qualifier Tianyi Jiang of Hong Kong.
In the women’s singles competition, eighth seeded Wing Nam Ng of Hong Kong beat Goergina Pota of Hungary 11-9, 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 11-3 to set up a semi-final clash against sixth-seeded Sakura Mori of Japan who beat Tze Wing Mak of Hong Kong 11-6, 13-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7. 
RESULTS (till 7 pm)
Women's Singles (Quarter-finals)
[8] Wing Nam NG (HKG) Beat [3] Georgina Pota (HUN) - 11-9, 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 11-3
[6] Sakura Mori (JPN) vs [11] Tze Wing Mak (HKG) - 11-6, 13-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7
Men's Singles (Quarter-finals)
[1] Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) Beat [5] Yuya Oshima (JPN)- 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 4-11, 6-11, 12-10
[3] Koki Niwa (JPN) Beat Tianyi Jiang (HKG) - 11-9, 10-12, 11-1, 11-8, 11-8
[11] Sharath Kamal Achanta (IND) Beat [6] Paul Drinkhall (ENG) - 11-4, 10-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11
[14] Tomokazu Harimoto (JPN) Beat [8] Robert Gardos (AUT) - 4-11, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6
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